James Brown: CNN investigation raises questions about the deaths of Soul's godfather and his third wife, Adrienne


These skeptics include Dr. Marvin Crawford, who signed Brown's death certificate at an Atlanta hospital in 2006. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Mr. Crawford said he never believed Brown had died of natural causes.

"It has changed very fast," Crawford said. "He was a patient I would never have predicted who would have coded … But he died that night, and I raised the question: What went wrong in that room?"

Officially, the Soul's Godfather died of a heart attack and fluid in his lungs at age 73 on Christmas Day 2006. Twelve years later, his manager, his widow, his son and several friends and associates told CNN Are Serious Questions about Brown's death, which can only be answered by forensic investigators.

Based on interviews with nearly 140 people, the three-part series also examines the 1996 death of Adrienne Brown, James Brown's third wife. Although authorities in California found no sign of crime when Adrienne Brown died while recovering from plastic surgery, a friend always believed she was murdered.

In 2017, the retired police detective who investigated the death of Adrienne Brown showed CNN the pages of a notebook he said a confidential informant had given him in 2001. In these pages, the detective says he first read it after the CNN contacted him. In 2017, the informant alleges that a doctor confessed to having murdered Adrienne Brown with a fatal overdose. CNN found and interviewed the doctor, who denied the allegations.

Police did not open a criminal investigation when James Brown died in 2006. But his friend Andre White and others alleged that Brown was murdered.

In the hours after Brown's death, Dr. Crawford says he recommended an autopsy. But Brown's daughter, Yamma Brown, refused the autopsy. When questioned about this decision by CNN, she did not offer an explanation.

CNN asked another daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas, about a claim that Brown's crypt was empty. She would not say if Brown's remains were in the crypt.

CNN's investigation began in 2017 after a circus singer named Jacque Hollander called a reporter to say she had information about Brown's death. She worked with Brown as a songwriter in the 1980s and later claimed that he raped her.

After this incident in 1988, for which Brown was never prosecuted, Hollander began to keep evidence related to him and his associates. She has collected numerous boxes of documents and tapes over the course of three decades. CNN examined Hollander's collection and also found independent corroboration for many of its claims.

The report involved travels across nine states, a review of tens of thousands of pages of police and judicial records, analysis of over 1,300 pages of Hollander's iPhone text messages, and the forensic test of a woman's shoe in a mysterious black backpack .


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